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Chelsea vs. Lille score, ratings: Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic put Champions League holders in charge of tie

LONDON -- Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic fired Chelsea towards the Champions League quarter finals as the holders ran out 2-0 winners over French champions Lille.

In a game characterised by the resilience of the Chelsea backline, Thomas Tuchel's side made the most of the opportunities they crafted at the other end. Havertz struck early on to fire the hosts to the lead they are so adept at defending before Pulisic finished off a second half counter to put the Blues in the driver's seat of this round of 16 tie.

Selected ahead of Romelu Lukaku, it did not take long for Havertz to justify Thomas Tuchel's decision. Having already found himself in two excellent shooting positions inside the first eight minutes, he rose highest to flick home Hakim Ziyech's corner from the left, the ball bouncing into the turf and leaving Lille goalkeeper Leo Jardim stranded.

For a time the French side seemed to be rocked by the occasion but as the first half wore on they grew more assertive in their attacking, Renato Sanches pulling the strings in midfield whilst Jonathan Bamba gave Marcos Alonso sleepless nights. However, this did not quite translate into great pressure on Edouard Mendy's goal, the most notable involvements for him being sweeping up when a pass was played in behind the Blues defense.

Meanwhile Chelsea continued to menace on the counter, picking up loose balls and driving up the field. When it is N'Golo Kante doing that it can be hard to stop him, as he proved when he slipped a pass in behind for Pulisic to clip home his fourth goal of the season for Chelsea.

Ultimately this was a performance extremely reminiscent of those that won Chelsea this tournament last year, not always the most aesthetically invigorating but one where the opposition were reduced to pot shots from afar and the transition proved to be the decisive weapon for the European champions. They will head to France next month (live on Paramount+) even stronger favourites to reach the quarter finals; repeat this performance in the weeks to come and they will surely find themselves at the business end of the Champions League.

Now let's check out some ratings.

Chelsea ratings

NameMinutesHow did they do?Rating

(GK) Edouard Mendy

90Though none of the shots particularly tested Mendy he did perform impressively sweeping up when Renato Sanches pinged a dangerous pass in behind the Chelsea backline. His most notable contribution might well have been when he slipped taking a free kick, but a teammate cleared up.6

(DEF) Andreas Christensen

90He settled into a solid pattern of spraying the ball into midfield from early on in a performance that was not remotely showy but was perfectly effective.7

(DEF) Thiago Silva

90There were more than a few moments when Silva's veteran nous was needed to quell dangerous Lille attacks. Anchoring the backline suits him to a tee and he bullied Jonathan David in the air all game.8

(DEF) Antonio Rudiger  

90Often the one marshalling the wing backs to get back into position, other than an early slice that narrowly cleared his own crossbar Rudiger did not put a foot wrong in a solid performance where not much was asked of him.7

(DEF) Cesar Azpilicueta  

90A disciplined performance from the captain, who contributed at both ends, most notably by putting the ball on a plate for Havertz to fire over early on. His positioning sometimes earned him the ire of Tuchel and Rudiger but at the most crucial moments Azpilicueta tended to be where he was needed.6

(MID) N'Golo Kante

90It's Kante in the Champions League, you know at the very least you're getting a very good performance here. His magnetic legs kept whipping the ball off Lille midfielders before he started to carry the ball up the pitch, culminating in his assist for Pulisic.8

(MID) Mateo Kovacic  

50He ended the game early with one of those classically Kovacic box scores, 96 percent of his passes completed, a 100 percent success rate in his dribbles and passes in the attacking third and a few ball recoveries. That was all the more impressive as he was clearly hampered and came off early in the second half.7

(DEF) Marcos Alonso

80The rollicking he got from Thomas Tuchel in the first half was well earned, Alonso simply could not deal with the roasting he was getting down the Chelsea left from Bamba in particular. When that is counterbalanced by very little going forward it is easy to see why he is struggling to stay in his manager's good books.5

(FWD) Hakim Ziyech

59 ⚽ 8' Even if he was not at his very best there was a swagger that emanated from Ziyech from his first touch. He was always looking to work an angle for a shot, sometimes to the detriment of his teammates, but it kept Lille on their toes until he hobbled off on the hour.6

(FWD) Kai Havertz

90From the outset he simply looked to be a better fit for the role of center forward, pulling the Lille defense into spots they did not want to occupy before spinning in behind. He was not quite as influential as the game wore on but he had already made an outsized impact.7

(FWD) Christian Pulisic

80 ⚽ 63' For a long while this felt like a frustratingly familiar Pulisic game, full of bright flashes like two dribbles early in the second half but without that headline-grabbing contribution. Then came the goal, just his fourth of the club season, elegantly taken and at a decisive moment.7
SubstitutesReplacedHow did they do?Rating

(SUB 1) Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Kovacic, 51'The best compliment that can be paid to him is there was no great drop off in the Chelsea midfield when he replaced the in form Kovacic. Always taking the ball on the turn, he helped advance Chelsea up the pitch but picked up a yellow card for a clumsy foul late on.6

(SUB 2) Saul Niguez

Ziyech, 60'Just one of his first 11 passes failed to find its man in a solid performance from Saul.6

(SUB 3) Timo Werner

Pulisic, 81'Had little impact on the game in his brief cameo.5
(SUB 4) Malang SarrAlonso, 81'Another who did not really contribute to the closing stages.5
ManagerSubs usedHow did the manager do?Rating
Thomas Tuchel 4 He may not have been enjoying himself as he offered a thundering commentary from the touchline but at full time Tuchel could reflect on a job well done, not least because his selection gamble had paid off with an impressive performance from Havertz.7

For Lille player ratings, click here.

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Dogue disappointment

The French champions have given it a decent shot, but their limitations have been laid bare without them being humiliated. Sanches did his best, but ultimately the gulf in quality has told in Chelsea's favor.

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Long night for Lille

Unfortunately, despite a spirited effort, Chelsea double their lead and that is now a very tough task for LOSC. Perhaps if they can nick a goal before the end then they have a chance, but even then, hope is slim. The defending champions are just too good as they showed a few moments ago.

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GOAL -- Pulisic fires home

A classic European goal for this team. Kante wins the ball in midfield, drives forward and slips the ball in behind for Pulisic, who clips the ball over Jardim. Breathing room for Chelsea.

February 22, 2022, 9:20 PM
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A game that's slowing down

Chelsea probably have Lille where they want them for now, without a shot in nearly 20 minutes whilst they soak up the pressure and spring on the counter, Havertz driving just over from a very tight angle after stealing the ball in midfield. Saul is being readied for the Blues with Ziyech in need of treatment.

February 22, 2022, 9:15 PM
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Away we go again

Two bright runs from Pulisic to start the second half. Neither of them really contribute to a threat on Lille's goal though and there's clearly something Tuchel is not happy with. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be on very soon.

February 22, 2022, 9:05 PM
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Half time

The sort of half that in different circumstances might be viewed as prime Tuchel football, a smart early goal and then largely settled back to hold onto that. But the chances have been a bit too frequent for Lille, the danger a bit rare at the other end. This is an ideal scoreline but so far perhaps not an ideal game for the Blues.

February 22, 2022, 8:56 PM
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Pulisic watch

I'm pretty much lifting this from our slack -- which is working again, huzzah -- but it's interesting seeing the conversation around Pulisic, who has had a few bright moments and nice interplay with Havertz around the final third. It's the sort of performance that you'd say was an encouraging stepping stone for a key player working their way back to fitness. The issue for the American international is his involvement is so inconsistent, the quality competing with him so vast, that these sorts of games can't just be good for him. He has not been great yet.

February 22, 2022, 8:44 PM
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Renato reaction

Lille less wobbly than I thought they might be when Havertz put them ahead and Sanches, as James pointed out, is at the heart of everything good they are doing at present. They still trail, but reaching half-time with the score the same gives them a good chance to get onto the front foot moving into the second half.

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Sanches making things happen

Stamford Bridge is not a happy hunting ground for Renato Sanches. When he was here with Swansea his most famous involvement was passing the ball straight into touch, thinking he had seen a teammate when it was actually an advert for Carabao. Now he looks far more dangerous, a gorgeous ball in behind the Chelsea defense summoning Mendy to scamper off his line and clear. Lille are hardly running the game but they're certainly getting back into it.

February 22, 2022, 8:27 PM
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13 minutes, one second

That's how long it took for Havertz to better Lukaku's touch count from Saturday, a pass to Hakim Ziyech. It is of course natural that a player like the German should be more involved in the game but the difference between these two is stark. Havertz is so at ease doing what Chelsea need from a center forward, dropping deep and facilitating before spinning and attacking the box.

February 22, 2022, 8:17 PM
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A LOSC cause?

Lille, up against it already, now trail in this tie. Can they muster a response? Regardless, they have to steady the ship after this opening 10 minutes or so and you sense that even that might not be enough to avoid a pasting.

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GOAL -- Chelsea lead at the Bridge

He only needed five touches to put Chelsea ahead in this tie. Havertz's left-footed shot brought a smart save from Jardim in the Lille goal but from the resulting corner he rose highest to flick the ball downwards before it bounced into the roof of the net. "Champions of Europe, we know what we are" echoes around the Bridge.

February 22, 2022, 8:09 PM
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What a miss!

Azpilicueta and Ziyech combine down the right, the former crossing low at the near post. Havertz sneaks in behind the defense but gets his foot under the ball, lifting it over the bar.

February 22, 2022, 8:05 PM
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Elsewhere

Dusan Vlahovic has just raised the bar for tonight's encounter by scoring within the opening minute of his Champions League debut with Juventus against Villarreal. Great finish too! Would not mind an early goal here, but Havertz has ensured that will not be happening -- for now.

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Kick off

Away we go. Immediately Chelsea's attack clicks into gear as Havertz does what Lukaku found so difficult at the weekend, dropping into midfield and flicking the ball on for Pulisic down the left. For a moment it looks like Lille might be tested in behind but they scramble back enough bodies to stop Ziyech when the ball comes to him.

February 22, 2022, 8:02 PM
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February 22, 2022, 7:48 PM
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A big day for Jonathan David

Four years ago Jonathan David had not played a professional game. He had just left Canada for Gent, starting out on a career path that would take him to Stamford Bridge today for one of the biggest games of his fledgling career. 

jonathan-david.jpg
Getty Images

A host of Europe's best and brightest clubs will be watching. Here's why.

February 22, 2022, 7:35 PM
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Tuchel explains Lukaku's absence

"I felt him a little bit tired. He looked a little exhausted and you have to consider that he's played a lot. We've had extra time [in the Club World Cup final], a lot of travelling recently and it wasn't easy for him against Palace."

"Maybe it will be a little bit easier for him to come on from the bench tonight and turn things around if we need him."

February 22, 2022, 7:46 PM
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Another missing piece for Chelsea?

Though Mateo Kovacic is certainly an adequate alternative it is notable that there's no Jorginho in this side as the Croatian international partners N'Golo Kante in midfield.

Jorginho's absence is all the more apparent because he leads the team in interceptions with 12 and in tackles with 17. The next highest player, Antonio Rudiger, has eight tackles.

February 22, 2022, 7:24 PM
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No Lukaku

The big news from a Chelsea perspective is undoubtedly the absense of Romelu Lukaku, dropped to the bench only a few days after that seven touch horror show of a game against Crystal Palace. In his place comes Kai Havertz, who can do a lot more of what the Belgian found so uncomfortable at Selhurst Park, coming to the ball and linking play. With Pulisic and Ziyech alongside him this is a frontline with a lot of shots and the ability to put together a lot of intricate interplay. Let's not forget, with the German at center forward Chelsea won the Champions League last year, using possession as a defensive weapon and dragging center backs out of position.

Perhaps there's a simpler explanation anyway. Tuchel spoke about helping Lukaku and maybe the most helpful thing to do now is to take him out of the firing line. After all, there's a cup final on Sunday to worry about.

February 22, 2022, 7:08 PM
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More Weah

Looking ahead to Chelsea in particular, you really got the sense that the 22-year-old is looking forward to the pressure release which comes with these Champions League games...

"It has not been perfect but there have been lots of positives like reaching the next round for the first time in the club's history which is great. I felt that we played some good games against Sevilla and Salzburg. It was an interesting and great experience for me and one that I will never forget. I am sure that a lot of the boys will never forget the moment we made the next round. A lot of positives, some negatives, but mostly positives. We are looking forward to playing at Stamford Bridge."

"It is always good to have the mindset to want to go into every game winning. With us up against the previous champions, I think it is always good to have the mindset to go after the but also to stay humble and just play our game. Champions League nights are very different to league games, and I hope that we come out and execute the way we want to. We are all confident and will take it step by step and see what happens in the game."

"You could say that it is just destiny as we pulled the first time and then pulled them again the second. We are meant to play Chelsea and meant to get this experience. I think that Champions League soccer is what it is all about -- playing against big teams, seeing the quality of other players, and getting to that level. It is going to be a great experience for us as a team and personally, it is something I have been looking forward to all my life. The Chelseas, the Barcelonas, the Real Madrids and the PSGs -- it is fun and a great experience."

"In Ligue 1, you know what you are getting and that is aggression and physical guys. In the Champions League, it is about tactics and chance. UCL is super prestigious and brings a different type of energy when you hear that song go off. Champions League is different to league games and both teams will be at the top of their game in the UCL."

"Jonathan is our fox in the box and a top striker. I love playing with Jonathan. He is always in the right place at the right time and his confidence is super high right now. You can see him getting the goals here and he is also Canada's main guy. I am happy for him; he is one of my best friends on the team and I love seeing him succeed."

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Reaction

Obviously the main talking point there is no Romelu Lukaku in attack for Chelsea, but I let James fill you in on the reaction from Stamford Bridge shortly. Otherwise, no surprise to me to see Thomas Tuchel go with as much experience as possible given that was always his preference with PSG. Leo Jardim in goal for Lille is a bit of a downer for the hosts as Ivo Grbic has basically gifted recent opponents goals at will so it might actually be a bit tougher to score tonight. Tim Weah on the bench is no real surprise and what a wildcard option Hatem Ben Arfa is. 

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Team news

Our starting XIs are in...

Chelsea: Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta (c), Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz, Pulisic.

Lille: Jardim; Celik, Fonte (c), Botman, Djalo; Onana, Xeka, Andre; Sanches, David, Bamba.

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Viewing information

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 22 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Stamford Bridge -- London
TV: CBS | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Chelsea -350; Draw +400; Lille +1100 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

February 22, 2022, 6:48 PM
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Good evening from Stamford Bridge

There's quite the buzz around west London right now as the holders return to European action and we're hearing there will be some pretty significant selection decisions made by Thomas Tuchel. More on that very soon.

February 22, 2022, 6:45 PM
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Weah woes

We also heard from LOSC's Timothy Weah ahead of the clash and the USMNT star had some interesting things to say about a few things, including what a difficult season this has been so far for him and his club...

"We are sitting midtable, so it has been difficult. A lot of changes were made, and it just has not clicked for us yet. Every team has ups and downs and our up was winning the championship last season. There was so much expectation and we wanted to bounce back this year, but it has not worked out like that. As a team, I think that we are handling it well. It is just not clicking and that is very visible."

"When you are defending champions, team are going to come out and want to beat you. I just feel that this year has been difficult, and we are just not getting the results that we want. We are just going through a rough patch and that is better now than later. We just need to figure it out and find our way out of it."

"This season has been slow, but I am taking it day after day and step by step. As an attacker, you want to score or assist all the time but sometimes it just does not happen. I am going through one of those seasons of just not scoring but I will keep my morale and team spirit high. Whenever I am out there, I give 100% and do what I can. When I am with the USMNT, though, I feel a bit more comfortable, and I am in my happy space when there. It is just a learning experience and I need to keep going and fight through it."

"(Former boss Christophe Galtier and current coach Jocelyn Gourvennec) are two different coaches with two different styles, two different backgrounds and they were both two different players. I think that they are both great coaches and that they both bring something to the table. We had such a successful year that it is a bit of a rough patch now, but our current coach is a great guy and coach -- I love playing for him. It is just not clicking as it should be right now."

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Lille

Chelsea are at least getting results, unlike French champions Lille. Jocelyn Gourvennec's side have won just two of their last seven games in all competitions and are marooned in Ligue 1's midtable, requiring a swift upturn in form if they are to be back on the European stage next season. 

The champions' stuttering Ligue 1 title defense continued at the weekend as they were held 0-0 at home by Metz. They are now in the midst of a run of four points from four games with just two goals scored. However the Champions League has proven to be something of a solace for Lille, who finished ahead of Red Bull Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg to top a competitive Group G before Christmas.

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